Literature & the Social Experience Office Phone: 226-4871
Fall 2004 Office Hours: M, W 9:30-10:30
Dr. Tynes Cowan T, Th 12:00-1:00
email@example.com & by appointment
Protest Literature "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."
---Thomas Jefferson OVERVIEW: As the quotation above suggests, protest is at the heart of American history, life, and culture. It should not be surprising that among the most popular and enduring characters in American literature is the rebel, the outsider, the little guy fighting against the system. But besides dramatizing dissent, literature is also used to express dissent, to reveal injustice and argue for social change. In this class, we will focus primarily on social movements that have been prominent in American history, though we will stray beyond U.S. borders occasionally. Although we may spend a great deal of time discussing subjects about which there should be unanimity (we're all against slavery, right?), each topic has contemporary manifestations that are more controversial. We will examine the ways in which modern activists address these issues, and we will debate the merits and demerits of modern protest rhetoric and tactics. It is a testament to the nation's founders that, historically, groups fighting against the status quo have returned again and again to the founding principles of the republic to argue their causes.
GOALS Students in this course will
understand a number of important social issues from a variety of perspectives;
make connections between life and art, theory and practice, literary study and other academic disciplines;
understand ways in which individual and group identities are formed in social struggles and through artistic responses or contributions to such struggles;
locate themselves on the spectrum of consent and dissent and gain knowledge of networks through which they may affect their own social change.
Ann Charters, editor, The Portable Sixties Reader…(60s #)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland
Joy Hakim, editor, A History of US: Sourcebook and Index (HofUS #)
James Nagel and Tom Quirk, eds, The Portable American Realism Reader…(ARR #)
Barbara Solomon, editor, The Haves and Have-Nots...(HHN #)
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Annie Wang, Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen
Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present
A composition handbook such as Andrea Lunsford's The Everyday Writer
Tests: * A Final Exam (to be taken at the scheduled time).
* Daily Reading Quizzes (I will count your best 10 quiz grades).
Papers: * 1 Course Project/Paper (1,500-1,800 words).
* 5 Short Literary Analysis Papers (500 words each). Every other week you will turn in a formal response paper based on that day's reading. Your group number indicates which days your formal responses are due. Post your response to the Digital Drop Box 30 minutes before class.
Blackboard Posts: You will post 1 informal reader response (250+ words each) per
week to the BlackBoard discussion board. These must be posted 20 minutes before class time. You do not have to post during the weeks when you have presentations or formal responses due.
Group Work: Two presentations. Your group will be assigned to one of the six issues
issue, and group presentations will be made on Mondays. Consider the first presentation to be informative while the second should be more analytical. In both cases, you will be teaching the class.
Participation: You should be prepared to elaborate upon of your ideas on the days
that you turn in a response. On other days, you should be ready to leap into the class discussion. No passive learning here!
Attendance is expected and required. You are allowed 4 absences for whatever
reason. Each absence after the fourth will result in a reduction of your final grade by 5 points (1/2 a letter grade), and more than 8 absences may be grounds for failure.
Although I do not doubt that many of you could earn a decent grade by turning in essays and showing up for exams, such measurements of ability are merely academic conventions used to assign quality points. You are really earning 1 unit of credit for being here and participating.
LATE WORK: Your grade for an assignment will drop ½ letter grade (5 pts on a
100-pt scale) for each calendar day that a paper is late. Post all papers to the Digital Drop Box AND bring a hard copy to class.
The final exam cannot be made up without some official notification of illness or other emergency. Daily quizzes may not be made up.
Daily Reading Quizzes……………… 20% Group Work……………….… 10%
Sept 27 The Sixties Reader, part eight introduction(491-92).
Rukeyser: "Poem" (60s 512-13).
Levertov: "The Mutes" (60s 525-26).
Wakoski: "Belly Dancer" and "Ringless" (60s 527-30).
Jones: Intro Only (60s 531-32).
Solanas: from SCUM Manifesto (60s 536-39).
Steinem: "A New Egalitarian Life Style" (60s 539-42).
Sept 29 Freeman: "The Revolt of Mother" (ARR 208-22).
Friedan: from The Feminine Mystique (60s 493-503).
Oct 1 Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (Arr 254-69).
Millett: from Sexual Politics (60s 504-12).
Oct 4 Gilman, Herland, chapters 1-4.
Oct 6 Gilman, Herland, chapters 5-8.
Oct 8 Gilman, Herland, chapters 9-12.
Week SevenLABOR and POVERTY
Oct 11 London: "The Apostate" (HHN 285-305).
Crane: "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, chap 1-3 (HHN 219-30).
Oct 13 Crane: "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, chap 4-11 (HNN 231-60).
Oct 15 Crane: "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, chap 12-19 (HNN 261-84).
Oct 18 Davis: "Life in the Iron Mills" (HHN 180-218).
Oct 20 Garland: "Under the Lion's Paw" (HHN 306-321).
Norris: "A Deal in Wheat" (HHN 322-33).
Oct 22 FALL BREAK
Week NineHEGEMONY and CULTURAL RESISTANCE
Oct 25 Kipling: "The White Man's Burden" (Blackboard Link).
Orwell: "Shooting an Elephant" (Blackboard Link).
Gandhi: quotations (Blackboard Link).
Oct 27 Las Casas: “Of the Island of Hispanola” (HofUS 12-13).
Sahagun: “General History of Things…” (HofUS 13-16).
Red Jacket: “Address to the Chiefs…” (HofUS 104-105).
Monroe: “The Monroe Doctrine” (HofUS 110-112).
“Memorial of the Cherokee Nation” (HofUS 113-114).
O’Sullivan: “Editorial on Manifest Destiny” (HofUS 127-131).
Oct 29 Chief Joseph: “I Will Fight No More Forever” and
“Address in Washington” (HofUS 177-180).
Okison: “The Problem of Old Harjo” (ARR 531-537).
Nov 1 To Be Announced
Nov 3 To Be Announced
Nov 5 No Class---Upper-division registration
Week ElevenANTI-WAR MOVEMENTS
Nov 8 Howells: "Editha" (ARR 412).
Twain: "The War Prayer" (Blackboard Link).
Nov 10 Sontag: "What's Happening in America" (60s 119).
Levertov: "Life at War" + "Overheard Over S.E. Asia" (60s 124).
Bly: "The Teeth Mother Naked at Last" (60s 128).
O'Brien: "The Man I Killed" (60s 171).
Kovic: from Born on the Fourth of July (60s 176).
Komunyakaa: "You and I Are Disappearing" and
"2527th Birthday of the Buddha" (60s 184).
Nov 12 McDonald: "I Feel Like I'm Fixin'-to-Die Rag," "Talking Non-
Reagan: “Speech at Moscow State University” (HofUS 268-272).
Nov 24-26 THANKSGIVING BREAK
Nov 29 Wang: Lili, chapters 1-4 (1-58).
Dec 1 Wang: Lili, chapters 5-8 (59-116).
Dec 3 Wang: Lili, chapters 9-11 (117-185).
Dec 6 Wang: Lili, chapters 12-14 (186-240).
Dec 8 Wang: Lili, chapters 15-17 (241-307).
Dec 14 (Tuesday) 1:00-4:00
GUIDELINES FOR ASSIGNMENTS Formal Response Papers
To begin these responses, you should choose a quotation for close reading. This should be an analysis, not a summary of the text. Use the quotation as a focal point for investigating some aspect of that day's reading. Your goal is to explain the significance of the quote in relation to a larger concept or theme of the entire work. You may use this formula: Pick a topic, usually expressed in a word or two such as "death" or "love." Then, decide upon a theme, or what the author is saying about the topic--usually expressed in sentence form. Your argument will form around your conclusions concerning what the text is "about." Be assertive. Defend your interpretation and back it up with specific textual evidence.
You are encouraged, but not required, to make connections to other texts and other information (biographical, historical, etc), but beware of trying to do too much in such a short assignment. All of this will make more sense as the semester progresses. Also, check the online Blackboard for writing prompts. These papers will be used to generate class discussion, so it is essential that they be completed and posted to the Digital Drop Box 30 minutes BEFORE class time on the days they are due. Informal Reader Responses (Blackboard Posts)
Throughout the term, post a total of 10 responses to the Discussion Board. The directions for formal reader responses can get you started, but do not feel constrained by those directions; the important thing is to share ideas, so don't worry too much about style. These responses should be at least 250 words each. Postings made after class discussions will count for ½ of a post.
Use the checklists provided on Blackboard .
I will give you guidelines around the middle of the term, but you should read the instructions from an earlier class, which I've placed on Blackboard.
Also, here is a short list of texts that work well in the final project:
Environment: Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)
Hegemony: Leslie Marmon Silko, Storyteller (1981)
War: Michael Herr, Dispatches (1991)
Labor: Martin Sprouse, ed., Sabotage in the American Workplace: Anecdotes of
Dissatisfaction, Mischief, and Revenge (1992)
Women’s Movements: Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
AIDS/gay rights: Tony Kushner, Angels in America (1993)
Poverty: Jonathan Kozol, Amazing Grace (1996)
War: Abbie Hoffman, The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman (2000)
Poverty: Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (2002)
BUT SHOULD GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT YOUR COURSE PAPER WILL BE LIKE BASIC COMPONENTS:
1. A text we have read. We'll call this the classic text/movement.
2. A text we have not read. This should be from a current/contemporary movement.
3. Textual analysis—interpretation of literary text(s) based on close reading of intrinsic material.
4. Contextualization—interpretation of literary text(s) based on application of extrinsic material.
STEP ONE: Say: "I like _______." Fill in the blank with one of the following:
An Issue: one of the five or one we haven't covered
such as the environment, abortion, gay rights, etc….
A Time Period: Revolutionary, Antebellum, Gilded Age, 1960s
or one we haven't really covered such as the Jazz Age
A Genre: A particular type of protest such as poetry, speeches,
satire, marches, fiction, etc….
A Text/Author/Protester: Among those we have studied, such as
Frederick Douglass, Bacon (of Bacon's Rebellion), C.P. Gilman
STEP TWO: Find: A contemporary expression or analogous situation to your choice in step 1.
A "real world" movement, plus an individual expression of it. (The
closer to today's date, the better. But since we haven't pushed much
past the 1960s, you might be able to use a movement from the 1980s and
1990s as "contemporary")
Examples: Current War Protesters as the current incarnation of the
antiwar movement of the 1960s. Some political rap or hip hop
as extension of the Black Arts Movement.
STEP THREE: Write: Separate "close readings" for your choices from step 1 and step 2.
These will be like your reader responses and should allow you to explore
your choices independent of one another.
STEP FOUR: Consider: What does a comparison of these two "texts" tell you? Is new light
shed on the "classic movement? Do you have a greater appreciation for
the contemporary movement? Does the contemporary movement make
specific connections to the classic—trying to claim legitimacy, but
perhaps taking protest too far? Etc….
STEP FIVE: Submit: A proposal to me. This should be the bare bones of your idea and where
you expect it to go—no more than a short paragraph.
STEP SIX: Start Drafting
GROUP PRESENTATION # 1
Each group will be assigned extra readings, mostly from Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Each group member will take one of those readings and present it to the group. After discussing the various readings, the group will prepare a presentation for the class.
QUESTIONS for the INDIVIDUAL I. THE HISTORICAL MOMENT
A. time period. Contextualize by reference to well-known historical markers
(for example, the decade before the civil war).
B. Offer 2 or 3 undisputed facts (such as the passage of the fugitive slave Law) and
explain their significance.
C. Your issue (such as "the color line"): What prominence does your issue have for
the people living in that time period?
II. THE PLAYERS
A. Who are the opposing sides in the struggle? Go beyond the basic oppositions
(such as abolitionists vs. slaveholders) to explain the complexities
of the struggle.
B. What are 2 or 3 key arguments on either side? (Again, don't say something obvious
like "Abolitionists were opposed to slavery.")
C. What are the methods, tactics, and goals of the "oppressed" group? (That is, the
group NOT in control.) Pay particular attention to the cultural and
rhetorical aspects of their resistance. (In other words, do they write
poems and pamphlets? Socialize in saloons or hold benefit concerts?)
III. THE MASTER NARRATIVE
A. What is the traditional history against which Zinn is writing?
B. Keep in mind what Zinn says in chapters 1 and 23. Traditional histories are the
memories of states. The focus on individual figures as "saviors"
denies the power of popular movements. Instead, the people seem
simply to go along for a ride through history.
IV. ZINN'S DECONSTRUCTION
A. What are Zinn's methods for deconstructing that "master narrative"?
How successful is he?
V . ORGANIZATION SURVEY: Do some web research and find current organizations that are
committed to social change linked to your issue. Your group should have a total of three
organizations, each with a different scope one college level, one local or regional, and one
national or international. Each group member should complete the “Organization
Survey” on Blackboard under “Assignments.”
QUESTIONS FOR THE GROUP I. Identify commonalities between/among the individual readings
A. Do the terms of the struggle change over time? Do the "Players"
change? Is there a shift in emphasis?
B. Do tactics of the oppressed group undergo dramatic changes? Likewise,
are the goals of the group pretty much the same? What is the
relationship between tactics and goals?
C. Give specific examples of the rhetoric—the form given to the argument.